Articles Posted in Personal Injury

A plaintiff was stopped on I-94 in Michigan when her vehicle was rear-ended by a vehicle driven by an FBI agent. The plaintiff asserted that the impact caused or exacerbated neck and back injuries and sued the federal government pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act. The defendant moved for summary judgment. The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan granted in part and denied in part.

car accident
In this Michigan car accident case, the district court explained, the accident occurred on a Michigan highway, and therefore, Michigan law governed the court’s determination of liability and damages. Under Michigan’s No-Fault Act, “tort liability for non-economic loss arising out of the ownership, maintenance, or use of a qualifying motor vehicle is limited to a list of enumerated circumstances.”

The appeals court explained that the defendant discharged their initial summary-judgment burden of showing that the accident was not the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s spinal issues.

The Michigan Supreme Court recently reversed a decision from the Michigan Court of Appeals, holding the appeals court misapplied proximate cause law in determining whether the defendant proximately caused the plaintiff’s injuries.

gavel In the fall of 2011, the then-13-year-old plaintiff was a member of the Chelsea High School cross-country team. Shortly after the season began, the coach held an early morning practice; it was the plaintiff’s first morning practice as a member of the team. The practice began at 5:59 a.m., when it was still dark outside. At the beginning of practice, the coach took the team off school grounds to run. During the run, the team approached an intersection with a two-lane highway. The “Do Not Walk” symbol was illuminated because the traffic light was green for the highway traffic. The coach and the group of runners with him stopped at the intersection. He saw a vehicle in the distance, but he determined that it was far enough away to safely cross. He instructed the runners to cross the intersection by stating, “Let’s go.” It was unclear whether all of the team members heard the instruction. Although most of the team safely crossed the road, a few runners in the back of the group were still in or near the roadway when the vehicle entered the intersection. The vehicle hit the plaintiff and one of his teammates as they were crossing the road. The plaintiff was severely injured, and he has no memory of the accident.

The plaintiffs, the victim and his parents, sued the coach and the driver. The coach moved for summary disposition under MCR 2.116(C)(7), asserting governmental immunity pursuant to the government tort liability act (GTLA). He also moved for summary disposition under MCR 2.116(C)(8) and (10). The trial court denied the defendant’s motion, stating that whether the defendant’s actions were grossly negligent and whether his actions were the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injuries were questions of fact for the jury to decide.

A defendant appealed from the order of the trial court denying her motion for summary disposition under MCR 2.116(C)(7) (governmental immunity). The Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court’s judgment, holding that the plaintiff presented sufficient evidence to create a genuine issue of material fact on the elements of both gross negligence and proximate cause.

workshop

The plaintiff brought suit after she sustained severe injuries to her hand while operating a table saw during a woodshop class that the defendant taught at Lakeville High School. She alleged that her injuries were caused by the defendant’s actions in removing a blade guard from the table saw, encouraging students to operate the table saw without the blade guard, and on the day of her injury, specifically directing the plaintiff to make a cut on the table saw that she had never before attempted without any supervision and without the presence of the blade guard.

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A plaintiff appealed the trial court’s order granting the defendant’s motion for summary disposition under MCR 2.116(C)(10). Holding that there was a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the plaintiff was more than 50 percent at fault for the accident, the Michigan appeals court reversed and remanded.

autumn highway

At around 9:15 p.m. on November 2, 2013, the plaintiff was walking home from the Applebee’s restaurant where he worked. He testified that he was walking northbound on Monroe Street, while the defendant was driving northbound on Monroe Street, talking on his cell phone with his girlfriend. The defendant’s vehicle struck the plaintiff near the intersection of Monroe Street and LaSalle Road, severely injuring him.

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A public park patron filed suit after being struck by a rock thrown from a passing lawnmower. The Michigan appeals court reversed the circuit court’s denial of the defendants’ motion for summary disposition, concluding the patron made no allegation rising to the level necessary to prevent the defendants’ use of governmental immunity.

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On May 20, 2013, the plaintiff visited Williams Island beach with her family. They sat at a picnic table. Approximately 30 minutes later, a Yates Township maintenance crew arrived. A Yates Township employee was tasked with cutting the grass using a riding lawnmower. The plaintiff asserted that on his first pass, the employee drove the power mower within 10 feet of the picnic table, causing dust and debris to be thrown into the air. As a result, the plaintiff and her family decided to leave. The plaintiff alleged that before they could retreat, the employee drove by again within a few yards. A rock shot out from the mower and struck the plaintiff between the eyes on the forehead. She suffered a fracture to the left nasal bone as well as swelling and bruising around her eyes and nose.

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The Michigan Court of Appeals recently reversed the order of summary disposition granted to a defendant driver and Progressive Insurance in an action for third-party no-fault benefits following a car accident.

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On May 9, 2011, in the City of Bingham Farms, the plaintiff was driving southbound on Telegraph Road when he was struck by the defendant, whose vehicle “entered the wrong turnaround on Telegraph Road,” “failed to yield to oncoming traffic,” drove in front of the plaintiff’s vehicle, and caused a collision. The plaintiff, with his wife, filed a three-count complaint on May 9, 2014 against the driver and Progressive jointly and severally, alleging claims of negligence, underinsured motorist coverage, and loss of consortium resulting from the May 9, 2011 motor vehicle accident. Both defendants answered the complaint, and discovery ensued. Motions for summary disposition followed.

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The husband of a woman killed by robotic machinery at her factory job is suing for wrongful death. The federal lawsuit seeks $75,000 from the companies linked to the equipment. (Pursuant to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, federal courts can hear cases between citizens of different states only when the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $75,000. (28 U.S.C. § 1332(a).)) The case raises the strange but increasingly relevant question of who should be held liable when robots injure or kill human staff.

robot

The victim was killed in July 2015 at Ventra Iona Main, an auto parts factory where she worked. Ventra Iona performs stamping of bumpers as well as welding, and it was recently fined by the state for workplace violations preceding the victim’s death. For 12 years, the victim made a good living and supported her husband as a journeyman maintenance mechanic for Ventra. She was succeeding in a male-dominated industry and carved out a specialty of fixing robots when things went wrong.

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The Michigan Court of Appeals recently affirmed an order of the circuit court granting summary disposition in favor of a defendant club owner in a case involving a physical fight at the defendant’s strip club.
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After a fight broke out between two of the club’s dancers, a bouncer became involved in the altercation, assisting in separating the combatants and bystanders. He worked at the club as a part-time bouncer but was present in the club as a patron at the time of the altercation. The plaintiff was performing as a dancer at the time and was a bystander to the altercation. She sustained an injury to her arm, which she alleged was caused by the bouncer when he seized her and pushed her into a doorway in the process of breaking up the fight. The plaintiff based her claim against the defendant club owner on a theory of vicarious liability for the bouncer’s conduct while he was acting within the scope of his employment with the defendant. She also alleged a claim involving negligent hiring and employment.

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Over 1,700 Flint residents have filed suit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The class action lawsuit accuses Flint officials of negligently mismanaging the city’s water crisis. The lawsuit comes just as President Trump plans to eviscerate the budget of the EPA. The plaintiff class filed suit in U.S. District Court in Michigan.

water

The water crisis originated in 2014 after the city switched its water source from Lake Huron to the Flint River and failed to ensure that corrosion inhibitors were used to stop leaching into Flint’s pipes. The crisis has resulted in a large number of lawsuits that could cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars in damages. According to experts, the only “deep pocket” near Flint is the State of Michigan. The crisis could therefore become a tax liability for Michigan citizens. According to a report published by the Senate Fiscal Agency, the state of Michigan paid roughly $41.8 million in verdicts and settlements in the last fiscal year.

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A plaintiff appealed a trial court’s order granting summary disposition to a defendant fruit market after the plaintiff tripped over a landscaping tool in the defendant’s store. The Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court’s judgment.

market

The appeals court began by outlining Michigan’s premises liability law. In a premises liability action, a plaintiff must prove the elements of negligence:  (1) the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty, (2) the defendant breached that duty, (3) the breach was the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injury, and (4) the plaintiff suffered damages. Typically, a landowner owes a duty to use reasonable care to protect invitees from unreasonable risks of harm posed by dangerous conditions on the owner’s land. A landowner may be liable for breaching this duty if it is aware of a dangerous condition but fails to fix the defect, guard against the defect, or warn the invitee of the defect. However, it is well-settled that a landowner’s duty to protect does not extend to dangers that are open and obvious.

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